Many of the poems on this recording display defiance in the face of this experience, and Mapanje's introductions are striking for their matter-of-fact tone as they recount the awful happenings that inspired the poems: the religious persecution of his sister’s family in 'The House That Florrie Intended', for example, or political disappearances in 'Vigil For A Fellow Credulous Captive'. This is epitomised in his preface to 'Scrubbing the Furious Walls Of Mikuyu', in which he says "of all the prison poems I have written, this is my favourite little one." Political references are also often suggested allegorically, so that the singer of the 'Song of Chickens', horrified by the switch in its master's attitude toward it, is not openly linked to any human parallel.
Further poems show the range of Mapanje's attention, from the hypocrisies and blind spots of those who think themselves "civilized" in 'Now That Sept. 11 Should Define Mr. Western Civilization', through the impressions on a young student recorded in 'Sketches of London', to the coastal joy that informs 'The Seashells of Bridlington North Beach'.
Mapanje makes reference to the oral tradition while introducing 'Song of Chickens', and his own oral skills are shown here to great effect. He embraces moments of contemplation, declamatory passion, and rhythmic exuberance, sometimes moving between these styles within the same poem, which work in performance to bring a great sense of presence to each poem in this reading.
His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 28 June 2005 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.